My name is Leah Hadley and I am the Amputee Artist. I make fun and sassy products for disabled people, following my own amputation. It started with stump socks. The first thing I noticed after my amputation was how cold my stump was. I had been fighting an infection in my foot for so long that now it was a normal temperature, it felt freezing. I was bored in hospital so I knitted myself a sock to go over it, and from then I made different characters. It made me feel a lot better about introducing my young sister and niece to the fact I didn’t have a foot anymore too. They took it really well a loved my crocodile! I find it helps when out in public to wear one, if I’m not wearing my leg, because I was so sick of getting stared at, I wanted to give people something to look at. They still stare, but now they smile. Not the awkward “oh, wheelchair user” smile, a genuine smile.
Then I made the badges and keyrings. These are a bit more sassy. Some times I just want to say the slogans on them when talking to a stranger, but I don’t have the nerve. I get lots of comments and giggles because of them too, so I started creating for other disabilities and ailments.
I’ve always believed that laughter is the best medicine. When I found out I was going to have an amputation, I used to post updates about my last week together with my foot, adding photos of my foot wearing glasses. I post jokes about being an amputee and just laugh with myself really. It’s made the whole experience, for me, and whole lot easier to cope with. And as an added bonus, knitting helps take my mind off the phantom pain!
If I could give any advice to a new amputee, its to remember you lost a limb, not your sense of humour. You are incredibly brave. But it’s ok to laugh.
Leah Hadley -Amputee Artist